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Japan’s banks still have some pretty hefty hurdles to overcome. The country’s economy remains locked in the doldrums, which has led to the unrelenting emergence of new non-performing loans (NPLs). Meanwhile, the Nikkei 225 stock index dropped 28% in the 2002 fiscal year, which has resulted in bloated unrealised losses on the balance sheets of the major banks. To add a little more frisson to their predicament, the effective nationalisation of the country’s fifth largest banking group,

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